15 January, 2017
The controversial move on Sudan, which lifts some parts of a USA trade embargo in place since Bill Clinton's administration, came in response to "Sudan's positive actions over the past 6 months", including "cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism", according to an executive order by Obama published by the White House.
In a letter to Congress, Obama said he's determined that the situation that led the U.S.to impose and continue sanctions had changed over the last six months in light of Sudan's "positive actions".
But human rights groups say the Obama administration is sending the wrong signal - that if a country cooperates on terrorism, it will get a pass on other issues.
Sudan, he said, "has been cooperating and coordinating with the U.S. since before 2000 in the struggle against terrorism", he said.
"It's impossible to match Sudan's reality with the Obama administration's claims of "sustained progress"," the HRW officer said.
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The Trump transition team said that the order was meant to ensure that all officials from Obama's time leave on schedule just like thousands of political aides at the White House and federal agencies.
The United States said on Friday it would lift a 20-year-old trade embargo against Sudan, unfreeze assets and remove financial sanctions as a response to Khartoum's cooperation in fighting Islamic State and other groups.
Washington in November extended sanctions against Sudan for a year, saying it could lift them at any time if the African country were to do more to tackle terror.
The outgoing president noted "a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan".
Trump's transition team had been briefed on the move, the official said, adding that the measures do not affect Sudan's label as a state sponsor of terrorism nor does it impact sanctions tied to Khartoum's role in the Darfur conflict.
"We are taking these actions in recognition of positive steps the government of Sudan has taken", the second official said. It also banned the extension of US credit to the oil-producing nation. The country gave safe haven to Osama bin Laden and was one of only three nations (Syria and Iran are the others) with such a designation after the Obama administration removed Cuba from the list in 2015. Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, has been charged in absentia by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an indirect perpetrator of crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in the western region of Darfur.